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PCL Reconstruction

General Information

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of four ligaments found at the knee joint, located directly behind the anterior cruciate ligament. The posterior cruciate ligament's main function is to keep the tibia or shinbone in place.

Reasons for PCL Reconstruction

  • Failure of a torn or injured posterior cruciate ligament to heal
  • Complete tear of a posterior cruciate ligament
  • Combination of a PCL tear and tearing of other knee ligaments such as the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament
  • Chronic PCL injury


Your doctor may use a number of tests and imaging technologies to determine the exact location and severity of your knee joint injury. These tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • Arthroscopy


A PCL reconstruction depends on the severity of the injury. Injuries to the PCL are graded as follows:

Grade I: partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament Grade II: complete or isolated tear to the posterior cruciate ligament Grade III: torn posterior cruciate ligament in addition to injury to additional or surrounding ligaments

Repair of a torn posterior cruciate ligament is performed on an outpatient basis. Reconstruction or repair surgeries of the PCL are often performed with an arthroscope introduced in a very small incision in the knee joint.

During the procedure, the doctor:

  • Inserts the arthroscope into a small incision in the knee joint
  • Cleans up the injured area and cuts away portions of damaged PCL, or removes it entirely
  • Drill a tunnel in the wall of the itercondylar notch
  • Prepare the tibial attachment site
  • Drill another tunnel for attachment of new ligament graft to the tibia
  • Edges of each tunnel is smoothed
  • A new ligament graft is passed into the point through the tunnels and fixed in place with screws or staples
  • Incisions are closed

What to Expect

PCL reconstruction surgery involves between 2 and 4 weeks of leg immobility with the knee fully extended. You'll not be able to bear weight on the injured knee until your doctor or physical therapist gives you the green light. Depending on the severity of your injury, the surgical approach and your overall physical condition, you can expect it to take 6 to 9 months for your knee to fully heal and get back to sporting activities.